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Local private equity firm to acquire fledgling hybrid air carrier

A promotional image of Air Premia airplane (Air Premia)
A promotional image of Air Premia airplane (Air Premia)
An investor group led by a domestic private equity firm JC Partners is looking to take over the South Korean fledgling hybrid airline Air Premia, industry sources said Wednesday.

The consortium composed of JC Partners, founded by former head of Orix Private Equity Korea Lee Jong-chul, and Hong Kong-based Korchina is said to close the buyout deal by acquiring at least 65 percent of Air Premia voting rights before the first half of 2021. Their combined price is expected to reach at least 50 billion won ($45 million). Air Premia could not be reached for comment.

Air Premia earned a preliminary government license in 2019 to operate a budget carrier for overseas routes on the premise that the company is qualified for a maiden flight within two years.

But the global COVID-19 outbreak last year has effectively delayed the procedures for a final approval. The Land Ministry extended the deadline for the air carrier to obtain an air operator’s certificate -- a prerequisite for a maiden flight -- to the end of 2021. Air Premia has yet to obtain the AOC.

Once Air Premia is given the green light, the company will operate as a hybrid carrier, which is designed to offer medium- and long-haul routes at a more reasonable price than full-service carriers.

JC Partners has been ramping up its buyout strategies since its founding in 2018. The latest deal includes an agreement to buy KDB Life Insurance in December and a takeover of MG Non-Life Insurance in April.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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